Offaly relegated to the Christy Ring Cup for 2020
Back-to-back championship relegations is the realisation of every worst nightmare
Kerry’s Bryan Murphy in action with Shane Dooley of Offaly. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Offaly will be playing hurling in the third tier of the championship in the 2020 season, after losing their final McDonagh Cup match to Kerry on Saturday.
Despite losing their first three matches of the competition, Kerry’s defeat to Laois last weekend meant that a win over the Kingdom would leave the two counties tied on two points. And in that situation the Faithful county would have survived on a head to head advantage.
Instead thought they suffered what was a ninth straight championship loss. Last summer they dropped down to the McDonagh Cup after losing all four of their Leinster hurling championship round-robin matches - to Galway, Kilkenny, Wexford and Dublin. Next summer they will be facing London, Roscommon, Wicklow and Kildare.
It’s been a nightmare 2019 for Offaly, a county who have won four All-Ireland hurling championships, they were also beaten by a point by Carlow in the Division One league relegation playoff. That defeat in Tullamore, back in March, means that next year they will play in Division Two of the restructured league. There they’ll again face Kerry, as well as Antrim, Mayo, Wicklow and Meath.
On Saturday, Offaly played the first half with the wind at their backs and led 0-4 to no score, but lost Peter Geraghty to a red card for a striking offence. They trailed at the interval by four points, with Kerry scoring a goal via Pádraig Boyle.
Shane Dooley punished a mistake in the Kerry defence and made it a one-point game with a goal of his own after the change of ends, but backed by the elements it was Kerry who kicked on from there. The final score in Austin Stack park, Tralee was Kerry 1-18 Offaly 1-16.
Meanwhile, Westmeath and Laois drew 1-22 apiece, and they will meet again in the McDonagh Cup final in two weeks. Both teams will also contest the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-finals against the third-placed teams in the provincial round-robins, and the McDonagh Cup winner will replace Carlow in next year’s 2020 Leinster championship.